Saturday, January 02, 2021

The Grouble With Gribbles

Imagine my surprise to learn that a gribble is an actual thing!  I thought it was just the odd noise a hamburger corporation mascot makes in 1980s television commercials.  But no, a gribble is in general a white, quite pale, crustacean.  Here's a delightful sentence from the Brittanica online: They feed on algae, driftwood, & the submerged wood of docks & wharves & sometimes attack the nonwoody insulation of submarine cables.

Perhaps the author of that article got a tad too judgmental in the last sentence.  "Attack"?  Perhaps I should investigate further - the image of a gribble "attacking" something it wants to eat is perhaps akin to one "attacking" a meal when one is hungry.

Instead, I decide to look at pictures of gribbles.  Here's one:

One image, two gribbles.  It's from an article entitled "The Gribble Worm Could Hold Secrets for Cheaper Renewable Energy."  It's a bit weird that they outright call the gribble a worm in the headline but say in the first sentence: Perhaps you can tell by their name, but gribble worms are not the most beloved of crustaceans.

What the hell?  Does the word "gribble" automatically sound pejorative to you?  How can I tell by its name that it's not the most beloved of crustaceans?  & by the way, how can you be trusted if you call something both a worm & a crustacean?  Worms aren't crustaceans.  That seems pretty easy to research.

But I wondered if I wasn't cool enough to know what "gribble" might mean, especially to the hip Popular Mechanics crowd (that's where the article is).  So I went to the trusty Urban Dictionary, which tells me that gribble is the slang term in Hawaii for falling or "eating it."  As usual, there's a helpful sample sentence: Sam gribbled on the turf.

Let me just state that I don't see or hear any relationship in the word gribble with eating wood, being loved, or falling down.  In fact, the word is quite young, having entered the English language barely two hundred years ago - centuries in fact after sailors probably noticed them eating their piers.  Etymologists don't know exactly where the word comes from, but most seem to think it's a slight variation on "grub."  & sure, "grubby" is an insulting term, but I don't hear "grubby" in "gribble."  Seriously, all I can hear is some variation of what the Hamburglar said in old commercials (although I think it was "robble robble" & not "gribble gribble").

Can I tell you two more things about gribbles?  They're from the Wikipedia article.

One: Gribbles play an ecologically important role, by helping to degrade & recycle driftwood. Most seaweed boring gribbles attack holdfasts & their activities can cause the seaweed to come adrift especially during storms.

& two: For defense, gribbles can jam themselves within their burrows using their uropods & block the tunnel with their rear disc-shaped segment, the pleotelson.

Now, I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it doesn't suggest to me an animal people naturally hate.  But if you're going to be mean to an animal that helps degrade & recycle driftwood, I hope it jams its uropods & sticks its pleotelson in your stupid face.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Photographs Of Places I've Lived # 17: Neel St

In 2008, the woman I lived with, who became my wife later that year, got her PhD.  She began looking for jobs at universities, & even though the economy went kablooey that year, managed to find a tenure-track position at Marshall University in the spring of 2009.  That's in Huntington, West Virginia, a state I never thought I'd ever visit because it was a state I never thought of.  Knowing how my roots were in Texas, & Austin in particular (I'd lived there basically since 1986), my wife thought I might stay there while she lived in West Virginia & return on the weekends.  That was absolutely untenable, not the least because we had three dogs & two cats to take care of, & I would be at work most of the day.  No, I felt the time had come to leave Austin, & although neither of us were very happy in Huntington, I'm glad we left.

The city was very small, very provincial, very conservative & poor.  In our neighborhood - we lived quite close to a park - there were houses that were built seventy or eighty years prior (our house, pictured above, was built in 1934) that just sat empty.  One of our neighbors worked for the Census that year & frantically attempted to count people because the city was depopulating, & would lose some status if it dropped under 50,000 residents.  They wanted to count the students before they disappeared for the summer.

Huntington has the reputation of the most unhealthy city in the country.  While we were there, British cooking person Jamie Oliver was filming his attempt to remake school lunches or something.  There's some controversy over whether he helped or hurt.  I recall our neighbors being a bit resentful of his presence.

We had to buy a place - this became a common refrain - because you couldn't really rent with five pets.  The house was nice, three stories, so too big for us, & not good for our dog George, who was elderly at this point, & not so great on the stairs.  We liked the house, somewhat, but the town was dark, it got cold, & my wife was miserable.  Not only did she hate her job, she hated the city, & we took to going places on the weekend - we visited Athens, & Columbus, & Cincinnati, Ohio, we tried to find things to do in Charleston, but most often we found ourselves in Lexington, Kentucky, about two hours to the west.  I've never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but I should have known that our constant attempts to escape the city boded ill for our time there.

There was a student station, WMUL, that let non-students volunteer & do shows, & perhaps I've written about the issues I had while deejaying there.  It was fundamentally organized around commenting on & calling sports games.  Its music shows were afterthoughts, & in fact most of the time its automation system played the same songs.  My last show there I believe was late Monday, maybe from 10 to midnight, maybe later.  I can't recall.  I would go to the campus police, get a key, let myself into the building, turn off the automation, do Self Help Radio, turn the automation back on, & then return the key.  It was lonesome & not much fun.  One night in December however I went in to do my show & returned to find the world covered in snow.  That was amazing.

(I did a late night show because any other time my show might be preempted for sports.  One time I couldn't do a show because they decided to air a little league game to give the sports guys some practice.  That's a true story.)

We had decided to relocate to Lexington by the summer of 2010.  My wife went to Madagascar for research in June but we found a place to rent which you'll see next week.  I left WMUL in June before we knew we were going to move to Lexington.  I am hesitant to talk smack about radio stations but I was incredibly dissatisfied at WMUL & I found many of its practices distasteful.  I knew I didn't have much of a future there, & was thinking about trying to deejay at a station in Lexington, driving the two hours there every week to do the show.  It turns out I didn't need to drive that far once I got to the station.

One very nice thing about Huntington was we adopted our cat Bronte there.  I talked about her here & here.  She's doing quite well at 13 which is a surprise as we didn't think she'd make it this long.  After Beatrice died in 2018, she became much sweeter, & often visits us to purr loudly in our face.  To find the picture of the house above, I went through many photos of her tiny self when she first arrived.  She's a sweetheart.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Not That I'm Counting (But I'm Counting)

Happy New Year's Eve!  I am preparing for the fireworks because I have a nervous dog.  That's going to be fun.

Last year around this time, I was very excited because I had gotten a show on KBOO, which, along with my shows on Freeform Portland & XRAY, meant I was doing three shows in Portland.  I contrasted that with how long it took me to get a show in Dallas, which wasn't even a show that I really wanted to do.  It seemed too good to be true.

The Dickenbock Report was to be bi-weekly, so I wrote in this post a breakdown of how many radio shows I thought I would be doing in Portland in 2020:

Assuming I do all of my radio shows next year - not a safe bet, but, you know, I just might - that will mean:
52 Self Help Radios
52 Sugar Substitutes
26 Dickenbock Reports
130 radio shows.

It certainly wasn't a safe bet.  Even with the week off for the Dickenbock Report, it was pretty difficult to do three shows every other week.  & then I was surprisingly offered a midnight to three slot on KBOO - on the same night I did Sugar Substitute.  It wasn't an easy decision, but I chose to end the XRAY show (this was a week before the studios closed for the pandemic) for one main reason: it was kinda lonesome.  The shows before & after mine were recorded.  I never met the programmers (the show after mine was produced in France!) & that simply wasn't the case - or wouldn't be the case, anyway - with KBOO.

It turned out of course that I started the midnight to three show after the stations closed, so I've still not met the people who do the shows before & after me.  But once the stations closed, I concentrated on both making the shows I was supposed to make for both KBOO & Freeform, & I kept doing volunteer work (but not shows) for XRAY.

Freeform took a while to get a structured automation, so there was a gap between Self Help Radio episodes.  Some of them I made & they were tossed into the general automation & I have no idea if they ever aired.  In July they were scheduled for the 8-10am timeslot, & they stayed there until I moved the show to KBOO in late October.  So while I probably should have had 52 episodes of Self Help Radio this year, the count was actually 48.  I did my regular Christmas show, my wife's birthday show, three indiepop a to z episodes, my favorite releases show, my anniversary show (where I revisited an old theme), & 41 other shows with unique themes, including Halloween & Valentine's shows which were nevertheless a different theme than previous ones.

But wait.  When I discovered that there was no show on the Tuesdays when the Dickenbock Report aired on KBOO, I asked the Program Manager if she needed a sub.  She said yes.  So starting in June I alternated the show (which I began doing live from my home) with re-made episodes of Self Help Radio (I added to existing playlists after first re-airing shows that may or may not have aired on Freeform).  I revisited 12 themes over the course of eight episodes.  Technically then, I did 56 episodes of Self Help Radio this year.  But I don't necessarily count these as Self Help Radio episodes.

If things had continued as expected, there would be 26 episodes of the Dickenbock Report.  The show aired every other week until late October when it switched places with Self Help Radio & began airing weekly on Freeform Portland.  Instead of 26 there were 34 episodes of The Dickenbock Report in 2020.

Sugar Substitute ended on XRAY in early March but not before I did eight episodes of that show.

Once the pandemic started, I began to make shows both for Freeform's automation & I also regularly covered the Thursday 3 to 5:30am slot the Dickenbock Report left empty when it moved to Tuesday, first every other week, & then weekly from August to November.  Though I did that show live, it very nearly killed me.  I was doing basically seven & a half hours of radio a week & it was exhausting.  It meant I couldn't really help out in many other ways & that broke my heart.  I made eight freeform sub shows (including one pre-pandemic) & I made 28 KBOO sub shows (including a reggae show that must've be replayed at least five times).  That's 36 extra shows I made during the pandemic.  I might have made more if I hadn't committed myself to the regular Thursday morning show.  I was able to make a Freeform fundraising evergreen & participate in our of their challenges because I didn't have to worry about that show.

Let's do the math, shall we?  48 Self Help Radios + 8 Extra Self Help Radios on KBOO + 34 Dickenbock Reports + 8 Sugar Substitutes + 36 other shows equals 134 radio shows for Gary in 2020.

It looks like I made more than I thought I would.  Even though I didn't make as many of the shows I thought I would make.

Certainly I hope to return to the studios in 2021.  I hope to continue the current shows on KBOO & Freeform & hope to sub occasionally on all three stations when needed.  But if this time next year I just had oh let's say 50 Self Help Radios & 50 Dickenbock Reports I could not be happy.

It's sad to say but there really can be too much of a good thing.  & by the way I mean a good thing for me, not for people who listen to radio in Portland.  For most of them I'm sure hearing too much Gary - or any Gary at all - is a bad thing.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Self Help Radio 122920: Indiepop A To Z # 64

(Most if not all of these images found on Discogs.)

As I type this, it's very late on December 30th - later still to the east of me, where it's already New Year's Eve in most of the country.  I spent some part of today conducting interviews for the first Self Help Radio of the year.  I spent some time visiting with old friends from KVRX on something that wasn't Zoom but was Zoom-like.  I walked the dogs twice, both times happily in-between bouts of rain.  I also fed my animals twice.  Oh yeah, I went shopping & it won't surprise you to learn I forgot to get chickpeas.  However, if I had, my bill at Natural Grocers wouldn't have been $20.20 & even the jaded cashier, who always looks like heroin might be a little too stimulating for her, responded with a "Hey! Wouldya look at that!"  But I spent most of the day, it feels like, making that fucking collage up there of images of releases I played on Self Help Radio this week.

Holy shit that was time-consuming.  I spent the evening with my wife & came back to it when she went to bed so I could finish.  I knew I played forty-three songs & I created the grid to have forty-four spaces so I could stick the Self Help Radio logo in there, but when I got to the end of the song list, I had two little squares instead of one.  So I had to go back, one by one, to see which one I absent-mindedly left out.  It turns out it was an album I was working on when my wife came home from work.  She came to say hello & I just moved on to the next one as if I had done the previous one.  I hadn't.  I had to work backward to discover which one that is.

Which is appropriate for the last show of the year.  Holy fuck this year.  What a fucking mess.

Anyway, the show's on the Self Help Radio website if you wanna listen.  It's packed with good tunes.  It's also on the KBOO website's Self Help Radio page if you'd like to listen to it with KBOO spots at the very beginning.  I appreciate the extra hour but maybe three hours is too much.  Holy moly.

Remember username/password SHR/selfhelp.  Look below for what I played.  Happy new year!

Self Help Radio Indiepop A To Z # 64
"The Girl With Sunny Smile" Pale Sunday _A Weekend With Jane_
"Happy & Oblivious" The Palindromes _Muy Muy Pop Yum Yum_
"Knight In Gale" The Palisades _A Month Too Soon: 1985-1989_

"Brenda Walsh" The Palm Songwriters _You Make Me Smile (A Shelflife Records Collection)_
"How To Beat Dementia" Palomar _All Things, Forests_
"The Garden" Panax _2000 Teenbeat Sampler_
"Patronage" The Pancakes _Pancakes Can Panick_
"Pillar Box" Panda Pops _Bristol Fashion_

"Ghosting" Panda Riot _Infinity Maps_
"Beatrice Was Her Name" Panel Of Judges _Captain Circus! Chocolat Art Returns Compilation Vol. 1_
"Barely There" The Pansies _Feel Easy_
"Alison Statton" Pants Yell! _Alison Statton_
"On My Way" Papa Go Riot _...What's This?_

"Lo Que Me Gusta Del Verano Es Poder Tomar Helado" Papá Topo _Oso Panda_
"Way You Walk" Papas Fritas _Buildings & Grounds_
"Shine" Papas New Faith _Papas New Faith_
"The Lovers" The Paper Merchants _A Friend Of Mine_
"Falling" Paper Moon _Intercontinental Pop Exchange No. 2_

"A Northern Allowance" The Paperbacks _Intercontinental Pop Exchange No. 1_
"This Is How I Feel" The Paperboys _This Is How I Feel_
"Chills" Papercuts _Fading Parade_
"The Fastest Planes" Paperfangs _ePop006_
"Sometimes In Vain" The Parachute Men _Sometimes In Vain_

"Tree Roots Turn To Forts" Parachutes _Tree Roots_
"Metaluna Moroder" Parade _Metaluna_
"Without You" The Parallelograms _1 2 3 Go!_
"Burnt Toast" Parasites _Shreds Volume 3: American Underground '95_
"If I Ever Get The Chance Again" The Parcels _One_

"Me & You" Parekh & Singh _Ocean_
"Going Down Niagara Falls" The Pariahs _Tightrope Walk_
"All On You (Perfume)" Paris Angels _All On You (Perfume)_
"Painted World" The Paris Work-In _Hi-Five! Eardrums Pop's 5 Year Anniversary Compilation_
"Adding Up" Parsnip _Adding Up_

"Sapphire" The Part Time Losers _Sometimes The Nice Boy Wins_
"The Trumpet Song" The Particles _Tales From The Australian Underground, Vol. 2: 1977-1990_
"Pacific Love State" Partnerships _Double Love Suicide_
"I Wanna Take You Out In Your Holiday Sweater" Pas/Cal _The Handbag Memoirs_
"Into Hole" Passing Clouds _Creation's Happy Reel EP_

"Sometimes" Passengers _The Sound Of Leamington Spa Volume 3_
"I'm In Love With A German Film Star" The Passions _Thirty Thousand Feet Over China_
"Every Child In Heaven" The Passmore Sisters _The Original Rock & Roll Chair_
"Wherever You Go, Take Me With You" Pastel Collision _Wherever You Go, Take Me With You_
"Baby Honey" The Pastels _Truckload Of Trouble: 1986-1993_

Monday, December 28, 2020

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 64?

(Image from here.)

For the last show of 2020, Self Help Radio returns to its Indiepop A To Z series.  There have been sixty-three of them so far, the last one airing in August on Freeform Portland.  Which means this is the first installment to air on KBOO.  Hopefully not the last!

We began the letter P in the last episode, & I suspect we'll be spending more than one show on the letter P.  The show is three hours long & that may help us get past this letter sooner, but boy are there a lot of bands/performers whose names start with the letter P.  Not that the point of the series is to rush through the alphabet!  Far from it!  It's about celebrating these artists in an underappreciated genre!

The show is on tonight (tomorrow morning technically) from midnight to 3am on 90.7fm in town & online at  As we end the year, it seems nice to do it with lots of music & not a lot of me.  So shall it be.  Hope you listen!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Preface To Indiepop A To Z # 64: For The First Time On KBOO!

Wow, yeah!  The fourth (I think) or fifth (that's probably right) Indiepop A To Z in Portland is now on KBOO, as is Self Help Radio.  The show is three hours long, so there's an hour more indiepop.  That's kinda cool, yeah?

But I was thinking something interesting - back in the day, on KVRX, the Programming Directors (I was one of them for a while) were very stingy about what we called "specialty shows."  We wanted deejays to learn how to do good freeform shows, so one very rarely got one of those shows.  In general, they were mostly genre-specific: a metal show, a blues show, a dance show, etc.

In those days, I preferred a freeform-type show.  I didn't mind the requirements - we had to choose new stuff to play from a shelf called the "new bin" - because I felt I had more freedom.  I didn't want to be trapped within a genre.  But the truth is, most deejays hated the requirements & most of them wanted a "specialty show."  Even if, you know, once they chose to do a hip hop show, they pretty much were expected to play nothing but hip hop.

Fast-forward to Portland & pretty much every show on KBOO & Freeform are what we used to call "specialty shows."  There's almost no policing them, either - someone with a jazz show might not play jazz one week & no one would bat an eye.  As for me, I'm still a little freaked out about having a "specialty show."  I imagine a Program Director coming to me & saying, "Hey, Gary.  Self Help Radio is supposed to be based around a theme.  How does a show about indiepop bands in alphabetical order fit that theme?"

It doesn't.  But every show is a "specialty show."  It's what the deejays think the show is, not necessarily what they described when they filled out their program proposal.  It might raise a few eyebrows if a metal show suddenly became a gospel show, but other than that, the deejays are in charge.

Which is fine by me.  I still think I'm going to get reprimanded or something for these indiepop shows though.  Sixty-four of them!  & no end in sight!